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The Beacon Museum, Whitehaven, Cumberland

(54°32′57″N, 3°35′43″W)
Whitehaven, museum
NX 969 183
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Cumberland
now Cumbria
medieval York
now Carlisle
  • James King
  • James King
07 August 2015

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=14265.

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Feature Sets

The cross head was found in 1843 when the old vestry door of St Mary's Church, Gosforth, was reopened. The piece is part of the collection of The Beacon Museum of Whitehaven since 1996 (Museum inventory no. WHHMG 1994.741).


For the history of Gosforth, St Mary’s church, see: ‘Gosforth’ (separate site report).


Loose Sculpture


In his article of 1883, Charles Parker pointed out that the cross head was of a very different nature to all the others found at Gosforth (a drawing of which was included opposite p. 373). In 1899, William Calverley stated that the cross head was built into one of the walls of the porch of St Mary's Church. But in 1927, Parker donated the cross to the museum in Whitehaven, which in 1996 moved to become the Beacon Museum.

Comparisons with the cross head at Cumwhitton have been made in the past. Cramp (1988) suggested an 11th-century date, possibly after the Conquest, for both this cross and that at Cumwhitton. Other related crosses can be found in Cumbria, as at Ormside (Westmorland) and Egremont (Cumberland). The decorative motif of a circular form carved within the arms of a cross is not unique to this cross and can be found nearby, for example, on the larger cross now located outside the W end of St Bees Priory church. The possibility of a date in the 12th century should be considered.


W. Calverley, Notes on the Early Sculptured Crosses, Shrines and Monuments in the present Diocese of Carlisle, Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, extra series: 11, Kendal 1899, 170-1.

R. Cramp, Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, vol. 2, Oxford 1988, 170.

C. Parker, 'Notes on Gosforth Church and Churchyard, and on Sculptured Fragments there', in Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 6, ed. by R. S. Ferguson, Kendal 1883, 405-12 and drawing facing 373.

C. Parker, 'Some Medieval Crosses, Cross Sites, and Cross Names in West Cumberland', in Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, series 2: 9, ed. by W. G. Collingwood, Kendal 1909, 78-119.